Sonidos Serranos

Sonidos Serranos: Sounds of the Sierras...
Reflecting some of my family's interests: God's wonderful creation (especially mountains and hills!), music, and language...

Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

22 December 2010


As I hold my baby boy this Christmas season, studying his precious little face, marveling at his many tiny perfections, I repeatedly think of another mother over two millenia ago who held another Baby Boy in a stable in Bethlehem – so unlike mine in many important ways and yet so like him in others! And I stand in awe of the fact that HE humbled Himself to such a state of dependence: a tiny Baby, dependent on His mother for His most basic needs...

HE who is eternally God "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth!" (John 1) Later on, as a Man, "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death" – and not just any death – but "even death on a cross." (Philippians 2)

Why such humility – and even humiliation? He did all this in order to "save His people from their sins!" (Matthew 1) Are you personally experiencing His amazing grace?

How the angels proclaiming the news of His birth to those humble shepherds on the Judean hills must have wondered at such amazing grace toward mankind! I, too, stand in awe...

13 December 2010


Our precious Little Man is now six weeks old!
(Where does time go?!)

I'm finally getting around to posting one-month pictures. Computer time has been rather scarce these days...

He loves to hold up his head. We think he's showing off!

He's very smiley now, but this is his most typical serious face.

He'll be twice as tall as the Lion before we know it...

I took Elizabeth's milestone pictures with a very special Elephant that my Grandma had given me. I've tried to get some "look alike" milestone pictures now with DJM.


07 December 2010


On the way back down the mountain on Sunday evening Elizabeth was enjoying the night sky:
I see a galaty! (She meant galaxy.)
After discussing galaxy (including its pronunciation) for a few minutes and after enjoying more of the view, she said:
I'll recognize the stars that are in the American flag when I see them because they're stacked in a blue square.
We eventually realized that she was expecting to find those fifty stars in that formation in the sky! After all, the stars in Alaska's flag (much loved during our summer travels) can be easily identified in the night sky!

Here are some of her renditions of the Big Dipper, the stars in Alaska's flag.

She drew these after our return from Alaska in mid-August:

Drawing is what she does (and loves!) most as the many miles of our travels go by...

She also informed us that we can see the star in Uruguay's flag every day.
Because it's the sun! The sun is a star. Well, it's really a big ball of fire!

06 December 2010


We've been enjoying Big Baby Boy Smiles since DJM was fifteen days old. (There are definite benefits to being big!) Most smiley sessions, however, occurred during middle of the night diaper changes when we didn't have the camera on hand or (perhaps more importantly!) didn't need to encourage wakefulness.

Last Friday morning, the smiles were coming when we did have the camera handy.

Enjoy! (We surely are!)

for Daddy 

 for Mommy

another one for Mommy!

01 December 2010


He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young...
(Isaiah 40)

Christ, my Good Shepherd, is all-wise. He deals gently with those who are dependent, weak, helpless... I am thankful that I can take my cue from HIM!

30 November 2010

mas fotos favoritas

Finally! Snatching a few more moments to post more favorite "fotos" of our Little Man;

Tio Matias

Tia Tini

Tia Shannah (a.k.a. Tata)

Tio Alfonso

Tia Esther


25 November 2010

So much to be thankful for...

The doctors were very open with Jonatán and his family at his appointment on Thursday a week ago. They told Esteban and Esther that, as parents, they would have to decide if they wanted Jona to receive chemo in the future or not. Please pray for wisdom. We continue to ask the Lord for the miracle of complete healing; HE is the Great Physician!

We are praising the Lord once again for His abundant provision for Jona and his family. They are (right now!) on the way to our beloved Uruguay! They plan to be there until December 13, returning to the USA on December 14. The Lord provided abundantly for their tickets and other expenses for the trip!

Please pray for physical strength for all of them as they travel; pray especially for Jona. Pray that they'd be able to get some good sleep on the airplanes. Please pray that precious memories will be made during this special time together with extended family in Uruguay. Jona has not been to Uruguay for about ten years, and this will be the first time ever in Uruguay for his brother Marcos.

On Sunday morning Jona gave a testimony at Iglesia Bautista Calvario in Greer. He spoke in Spanish, but my dynamic translation of some of what he said (with his typical personality and sincerity) includes:

I’m thankful for my parents; they cook lots of good food for me!

I’m thankful for my brother; he makes me laugh when I’m feeling sad.

I'm thankful for my (school) friends; they visit me in the hospital and bring me treats!

I’m thankful for the cancer; it has drawn me closer to God.

My God is so big; there are no words to describe Him!

Thank-you for praying – for the whole family – and especially for Jona. Our God is big, and we are experiencing His abundant grace!

We continue to have so much to be thankful for!

A “list” of blessings...

According to Elizabeth:

Compare this years list to last years list of blessings.

We do have so much to be thankful for...

23 November 2010

La Chaim! (To Life!)

Life has been full!

Our Little Man is now three and a half weeks old. (Where does time go?!) Daniel James is keeping us busy eating lots! He has put himself on a (roughly) three- and/or four-hour schedule although he does at times revert back to a two-hour schedule. Yep! He's our Little Man and has a hearty appetite!

Being big has its advantages. He started flashing great big smiles at us when he turned two weeks old. His whole face lights up and we can see dimples in his chubby little face. The smiles are especially rewarding (when directed at his Mommy) during our middle-of-the-night episodes!

We're rejoicing in God's gracious goodness to us in once again answering many prayers and granting us the desires of our hearts.

"Who is like the LORD our God, Who is enthroned on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?
. . .
He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.
Praise the LORD!"
(Psalm 113)

15 November 2010

fotos favoritas

More favorite family "fotos" include:

the very proud PaPa and Grandma

Aunt Ruth

On our first morning as a family of four at home, Elizabeth wanted to tell Daniel James "the story of Jesus dying on the cross."

There are so many favorites but so little time...!

a very alert three-day-old Little Man

a very well-loved one-week-old Little Man

Yes! We have been abundantly blessed!

14 November 2010

November 14: Update on Jonatán

Just a very quick update:

Jona now has a CaringBridge site where you can subscribe to updates ("journal notifications") via email. You can also leave encouraging messages in his GuestBook.

Please continue to pray!

13 November 2010

Welcome, DJM!

Daniel James Matías weighed 9 lbs, 14 oz and was 22 inches long! We promptly changed our nickname for him from Itty Bitty Boy to Little Man!

We're going on two weeks now... Time really does fly when you're having fun AND when you're keeping busier than ever! That's why I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures...

Some of our favorite "brand new" pictures include:

about fifteen minutes old

about one hour old

"Best Big Sister"

Elizabeth had been looking forward to helping me dress him, BUT she wanted my help with putting on his socks "because they're complicated!"

the boy cousins – on the Garwood side

Jonatán was admitted to the hospital for surgery on the day I was discharged. These are definitely emotion-packed days for our family...

Do pray for us all!

11 November 2010

Thank-you, Veterans!

Elizabeth drew the following in honor of Veterans' Day and of our two favorite veterans!

for her "Abu" (Marine Corps Veteran)

for her PaPa (Air Force Veteran)

Thank-you, Veterans!

November 11: Update on Jonatán

Please pray for wisdom and for God's clear leading for Jona and his parents this afternoon. They have a 3:00 p.m. appointment scheduled with the doctors; they will be discussing options for further treatment.

Please pray!

Thank-you for praying!

09 November 2010

A soul to train for God...

Almost exactly five years ago at a baby shower given in honor of my Elizabeth, I was given a devotional book for new mothers. These days, as I have ample opportunity to contemplate the tiny perfections of my newborn son, I have repeatedly meditated on the following excerpt inscribed in the flyleaf of the book:

Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me.

Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers!

Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blessed!

~ Elizabeth Prentiss in Stepping Heavenward, Chapter 18

06 November 2010

Saturday, one week ago...

By way of introduction: We'd heard that Pepperoni Pizza can help to advance the start of labor. We'd also heard that spicy foods can do the same. While out on a late morning walk on Saturday (one week ago), I got to thinking about those two theories in conjunction with a Papa John's Pizza Coupon that had recently come in the mail. (I was also thinking about Thursday's "trial run" at the hospital.) And I started craving the new pizza that was advertised... (I normally do not crave jalapeños!)

SO... For mutual amusement, here's the timeline for Saturday (one week ago), according to Papa John Mark:

1:00 p.m.
Papa John’s large Zesty Jalapeño and Meats Pizza for $11.00

4:00 p.m.
Something’s happening here.

5:00 p.m.
We’d better start timing these.

6:42 p.m.
Check in to hospital; contractions coming 5 minutes or fewer apart.

10:38 p.m.
9 lb-14 oz baby is here! (Natural delivery by God's grace!)

Pictures pending... (The Little Man is keeping me well occupied!)

05 November 2010

November 5: Update on Jonatán

Jonatán is currently in the hospital, recovering from extensive lung surgery – more extensive than originally planned. On Monday, the doctors removed seven "tumors" from one lung; they had to leave part of another one because of its proximity to the aorta. These tumors have appeared in spite of all the procedures of the last year – including several other minor surgeries on the lungs, plus the radical surgery on the arm, plus a year of extensive chemo.

We are reminded that our only hope for Jona's recovery is what Esteban has emphasized all along: Only the LORD can – miraculously – heal him. We are asking Him to do so if that is what would most glorify HIM.

As extended family, we are sensing keenly our need for our LORD. Please pray with us that we would continue to focus on eternity. We are trusting our Good Shepherd to continue to lead us in righteous paths – for His Name's sake! Please pray that our faith in HIM and in His good words will not fail!

We rejoice that Jona is doing well spiritually. In fact, my dad told me on Thursday that Jona was already walking the halls (surgery was on Monday), visiting the other patients in the cancer ward and praying with them, etc. He is a dear boy, and we love him dearly!

Please continue to pray! Thank-you for praying!

29 October 2010

More Tummy Pictures!

No baby pictures yet... We did go to the hospital to get checked last night, but Baby Boy still likes his present habitat – although he frequently acts like he's rearranging the interior design!

We've enjoyed watching the evidence of our Baby Boy's growth – even when the scales reflect that I've actually lost a pound or two between check-ups (as has been true lately) – and we've tried to chronicle some of that growth through pictures...

in mid-August at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

Contrast that one with the Baby Girl Tummy in 2005!

(Baby Girl Tummy in late December 2005)

Back to pictures of the current Baby Boy Tummy...

in mid-September at "Goats on the Roof" in Clayton, GA

in late September at a park in Rock Hill, SC

Just yesterday in SC! 

We've especially enjoyed noting that the Baby Boy Tummy seems to be "all out front" – if you see me from the back, there's scarcely any tummy evidence!

"shadow pictures" – in a SC parking lot in mid-October

28 October 2010

Happy Birthday, Dearest!

The day started with Elizabeth taking her Daddy to get coffee – a gift she has been wanting to get for him since our travels in AK this past summer!

We also surprised him with (not-so-well-known) books by C.S. Lewis (Boxen) and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun as well as The Annotated Hobbit), with the latter still on its way.

We enjoyed a birthday pie, courtesy of Dad and Mom who stopped by.

And we took two very beautiful autumn walks today.

Contractions have been increasing in frequency throughout the day and are now about fifteen minutes apart. Elizabeth and JM are out, getting a quick bite to eat. I'm planning to enjoy another cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea, and then we'll be heading to the hospital – at least to get checked out...

The most anticipated present may still arrive today!

27 October 2010

October 27: Update on Jonatán

Please continue to pray for Jona!

Multiple tests have been run... On Thursday, October 28, Jona goes to the hospital for a pre-op procedure. Surgery is scheduled for Monday, November 1. The doctors will be doing a biopsy of four nodules found in his lung. At this point, they are planning to remove three and then take measures to shrink the fourth.

As always, we fix our eyes on Jesus, our Great Physician, knowing that ultimately only HE can give healing. Please continue to pray to that end! Pray for grace and strength for Jona and for his entire family and – most of all – for the Lord’s Name to be made big through this continuing trial.

As Jona recently reminded us: God works in mysterious ways!

26 October 2010

Looking forward...

. . . to posting updated pictures SOON!

25 October 2010


As in: Sup, man?!

Well... SO much has been happening to keep us busy that blogging, checking email, and FaceBooking have taken a definite back burner for me...

And life is about to pick up even more speed with the imminent arrival of our Baby Boy!

Thankfully, by now we can report that the big yard sale went very well, the house is organized, a few extra meals are in the freezer, overnight bags are packed, and we are (finally!) feeling ready for the coming change. (Of course, theres still plenty to do! As in, please dont look at what used to be flower beds in the front yard...)

We are thankful to our Good Shepherd for His abundant goodness in giving grace and strength. We continue to look to HIM! And we would appreciate your prayers as we enter this new (and very exciting!) stage...

25 September 2010

Where are we now?

John Mark rejoined us at the beginning of September, and we are now "sojourning in SC" – as he puts it. He traveled from AK via Canada, ID, UT, CO, IA, and OH to get here. It's wonderful to be back together as a family!

The Lord carried us all summer, and we praise Him once again for His abundant goodness. We also appreciate all those who have been praying for us. (Please don't stop!)

Since John Mark's return, we have been turning the house upside down – getting ready for the arrival of our Baby Boy in the near future and getting ready to move to Uruguay in the (hopefully and prayerfully) not to distant future!

I spent about a week traveling through college memorabilia... I found that sorting through so many memories can be exhausting when trying to do it at warp speed!

30 August 2010

Not I, but Christ!

We sang a favorite hymn in church today... I'm struck with how appropriate it is as a prayer for parents of young children...

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

O to be saved from myself, dear Lord!
O to be lost in Thee!
O that it may be no more I, dear Lord,
But Christ, that lives in me.

Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow,
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden,
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.


Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision;
Glory excelling soon, full soon I’ll see –
Christ, only Christ, my every wish fulfilling –
Christ, only Christ, my all in all to be.

22 August 2010

August 22: Update on Jonatán

We are praising the Lord that Jona had a good first week of school. Please pray for him as he adjusts to the demands of tenth grade. He is still recovering – and probably will be for a while – from long-term effects of all the chemotherapy he had this past year. Consequently, he still feels quite tired off and on.

On Wednesday of this week, the doctors will be running multiple tests. Please continue to pray that the tests would show Jona to be cancer-free. Pray for complete healing for him – to the praise of Christ's glorious grace!

15 August 2010

Alaskan Sunsets!

While on the Kenai Peninsula, we enjoyed some spectacular late night sunsets!

The time stamp on the August 2nd setting sun was 10:24 p.m.

Four days later, the sun had already set at 10:21 p.m.

There is probably not a sunset that we witness that does not bring to mind a favorite passage of Scripture:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge...

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward...

And we praise the LORD for His Word!

13 August 2010

Questions! Questions!

Languages are complex!

And life is complex when you're trying to answer a multitude of "Why?!" questions and satisfy an eager four-and-a-half-year-old mind.

Today's favorite question so far:
"Why do we call pillows cushions when we put them on chairs?"

Good question! Linguistically, that brings up the whole idea that synonyms really do have areas of difference as well as (assumed) overlap.

PRAY for missionaries!

From our “Ladies Missionary Prayer Group” this evening:
  • Pray with definiteness: Pray for every missionary by name and for their specific prayer requests.
  • Pray that God will hear and answer their prayers.
  • Pray that God will remember your prayers for them.
  • Pray for deliverance from afflictions and burdens that we know nothing about.
  • Remember the immensity, infiniteness, unsearchable greatness, and goodness of the God to whom you are praying.
Therefore, pray in faith!

And pray, using specific passages of Scripture:

“That You, O Lord, would grant them, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith; and that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
(adapted from Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19)

11 August 2010

leaving Alaska

We had to stop and enjoy an Alaskan Tradition – one more time – as we left the Kenai Peninsula and returned to Anchorage...

We enjoyed the coffee, and Elizabeth enjoyed the Kid's Hot Chocolate – or as they said at Kaladi Brothers: A Party in a Cup (complete with whipped cream and sprinkles)!

The scenery as we drove up the Kenai Peninsula was spectacular! The clouds cleared and the sun came out, and we were able to more fully appreciate the amazing colors everywhere. The blue of some of the rivers and lakes would be beyond belief if we weren't experiencing it first-hand!

We are again humbly thankful for the wonderful icing-on-the-cake experiences our Good Shepherd gave to us during our six weeks of travel in Alaska.

Please pray for us! You can read our latest ministry report on our ministry blog.

10 August 2010

August 10: Update on Jonatán

Happy 16th Birthday to Jona! A lot has happened since his 15th birthday.

Today we're especially rejoicing that on Sunday morning he left the hospital, having finished his last chemo! He will most likely have the first of many follow-up check-ups later this week.

Please continue to pray!

May Jesus Christ be praised!

09 August 2010

in Soldotna, AK

We enjoyed wonderful fellowship with God's people at Soldotna Baptist Church, and we wished our time there could have been extended...

On Saturday evening we visited with Seth and Sarah C and precious little Elizabeth Marie. Our Elizabeth was pleased to meet another Elizabeth Marie!

We also enjoyed our time with Pastor and Mrs. T and were thankful for the time we were able to spend with them on Sunday afternoon, gleaning from their wisdom and experience.

We were encouraged as we left Soldotna, but we wished that we could have spent more time with the folks there...

08 August 2010

in Sterling, AK

We had a full Sunday of services and fellowship at Sterling Baptist Church, a church planted by Pastor Barkley, Patricia Garwood's father.

The one-room log school house Pat attended as a girl is still standing – across the street from the current church building!

Elizabeth was excited to get her picture taken in front of her Abu's old school!

We were thankful for the opportunity to assist with Vacation Bible School the next week. John Mark helped to lead the 10 through 12 age group, and I assisted with the 7s through 9s. Elizabeth was very excited to participate as well. Several mornings that week, her first question upon waking up was:

"Is it time for Bible School?"

Elizabeth became fast friends with Pastor Tim and Mrs. Julie and Amorie. She was very sad to leave them!

07 August 2010

Homer, AK!

Another of those icing-on-the-cake experiences included a day outing to Homer with Pastor Tim and Mrs. Julie and Amorie. In spite of light rain most of the day, we enjoyed the adventure immensely!

We drove out to "The Spit" and walked on the beach, gathering rocks and sea shells. There were lots of fishing vessels coming and going – and we even spotted a sea otter fairly close to shore!

We also got to see a group that had just returned from fishing, showing off their catch of Halibut and Silver Salmon for the day.

Besides the sea otter, the highlight was probably the Bald Eagles. There were two out in a field – and another one that flew right overhead!

Although limited because of the clouds, the mountain scenery was gorgeous! As we were driving out of Homer, the clouds parted just enough for us to catch a glimpse of either Mount Redoubt or maybe Mount Iliamna – none of us were quite sure which one.

Wonderful memories!

(Click on the collages to see larger versions of the pictures.)

31 July 2010

to the Kenai Peninsula

On July 31, we left Anchorage and drove around Turnagain Arm to the Kenai Peninsula. We were again amazed by the beauty of God's creation all around us!

The snow line is basically at sea level here!

We passed right by the Portage Glacier on the way to Sterling.

The glacier is behind Elizabeth in the middle picture, so I was very pleased with how much of the glacier's detail the zoom feature on our little camera was able to capture!

(Click on the collages to see larger versions of the pictures.)

30 July 2010

Happy Half Birthday!

As we travel, we repeatedly answer the question: How old is she? Someone with a very vivid little memory took note of the answer: She's four and a half. And she repeatedly wondered (out loud to us) when we were going to celebrate her Half Birthday.

So we agreed to celebrate.

Because life is just too short not to...

We also had fun taking pictures with her (new-to-her) matching doll. Her name is Elizabeth Marie. I wonder if Grandpa and Grandma W realize how happy they've made a little girl – and her (sometimes-still-a-little-girl-at-heart) Mommy!

We enjoyed a walk down Memory Lane today. I'm so thankful for digital pictures!

Newborn... Brand New!

One Year Old!

Two Years Old!

Two and a Half Years Old!

Three Years Old!

Three and a Half Years Old!

Four Years Old!

We thank our gracious Lord over and over again for blessing us with our precious little girl!